Friday, February 24, 2012

Picture overload.

Bratislava, Slovakia

I spent my whole Saturday there last week.
Loved EVERY thing about it.
Thanks to Rick Steve's for guiding us through the town.
And thanks to the Slovakian lady for pointing out the bathrooms, and the nice restaurant.
Not the mention the chocolate shop.

The really old cathedral.

They have cool statues in Bratislava.
That make for silly pictures.

The beginnings of the ancient Devin castle.
And the wall.

The Castle!
And some girls from my group.
The Devin castle.
Because every good girl deserves a jumping picture.
Especially one where it looks like you're doing a high-five.
Because we totally meant to do that.
Funny Story:
We went to the Institute there in Bratislava for a little chit-and-chatting.  And some good 'ol Minute to Win it games
Which, ps. I am REALLY good at. JSYK. And I got first place. And I won a hand-drawn picture of the Bratislava Castle.
I'm a winner.
Anyway, after this gathering of sorts, someone somewhere mentioned that we needed to catch our train back to Vienna.
Then whomever that someone was looked at the train schedule and saw that the last train left in twenty minutes.
(Ps. Can you tell that I went along just for the ride?)
So...we ran.
From the city center, UP a huge hill, and two miles away to our train depot.
The missionaries led us.
That is the only reason we made it.
Of that, I am certain.
Also, can you imagine six girls and two missionaries running the streets of this old, old, old town?
And we were all bundled, with bags and purchases and goodies, and me with my picture.
We looked like crazies.
We are crazies.
But we made it! With maybe seventeen seconds to spare.
This is us all on the train after we've stripped ourselves of our excess clothing and bags.
Don't look too close, it's not the best sight.

Rathaus Ice Skating

So, it turns out that when you cross an ocean you automatically get really good at Ice skating.
Not only have I ice skated to a different country now, but, I can bust some moves on the ice.
With Adriana holding me up.
And self-timer not lasting more than ten seconds.

We spent five hours ice skating last week.
Definitely my favorite five consecutive hours here.

We didn't get any invites.
But...we did get to watch it on t.v. with Norbert and Liesl and their friends Elisabeth and Peter playing bridge in the background. Hello, heavenly life.

This is for my mother:
We saw Hillary Hahn perform here in the Gold Hall of the Musik Verein.
I am considering taking up the Violin now.

Kahlenburg Excursion

Last Sunday. Also known as two Sunday's ago, Adriana, Michelle, Julia and I went on a walk.
A walking tour to be exact. 
It was such a lovely day, and the sun was shining, and it felt warm relative to the rest of our lives, so it was the perfect day to be outside. So we went on a hike. A hike that started at the top of the mountain, and took us down. Not because we're lazy, but because we can be.
Also, this walk took us to all sorts of unique areas, (and new lows) that we would have never found on our own/(wish we would have never discovered).
The problem is this:
Ana and I laugh a lot. Typically we take precautions for this kind of thing, like, using the bathroom before we leave the house, limiting our water intake, or not speaking to each other during times of intense hilarity.
We did not take such precautions on this trip. 
The following ensued:

Shame shame and more shame.
Thank-you Michelle for documenting this moment of pure horror.

The rest of the hike was perfect.
Ana and I tried to keep our distance from each other.
From the top of Kahlenburg.

Kahlenburg, Vienna

Leopoldsburg. In the distance.

You can't tell, but this house that I am so Vanna-White-ly displaying is gorgeous.

Sometimes, circular windows put weird facial expressions on people's faces.

Oh, Beethoven.
We practically worship you here in Vienna.

Where Beethoven lived, and wanted to die.

Near where Beethoven ate regular dinners.
Probably also near where he used to walk the streets.
And where he used to hum to himself.

The troopers. Minus Michelle. At Heiligenstadt! Our bus stop. So exotic.

Today was 13* C. That is somewhere near 64* F. I didn't even wear a coat. And I didn't even want a coat.
We went ice skating, and the ice was MELTING.
Think: puddles on the ice.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can't Keep Up...

I apologize.
I can't keep up.

Read this:

She's much better at staying updated.
Plus, we're practically mission companions.
We live the same life.

Also, my first final is tomorrow.
Hip hip hooray!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Best Valentine's Ever?...Unquestionably so.

Sometimes I think that I live a fairy tale life.
Like when I look out my window and see this:

Disclaimer: This is not REALLY outside my window. But it is the snow.
And both of those are out my window.

Or when I go to my school classes and see this outside:

Or when I come home to this:

Which seems less grand in this picture. But, truthfully, it is a wonderful home.

Or when I go to museums and run in to REAL UNICORN HORNS!!!

This REAL unicorn horn works miracles.
Right after this, chocolate fell into our hands.

Or when Valentine's rolls around and I have multiple Valentine's.
Specifically Brendon...that lover.

Came home from school to TULIPS on my desk.
And a love note.
That boy is too good to me.
Also, shout out to Adriana for assisting in "operation-surprise-becca-for-valentines-day"

And Norbert!
He gave Ana and I each a pink rose.
I promised my mother I wouldn't fall in love with any Austrian men while I was here...Norbert is making this tough on the old heart strings.

We were planning on going ice skating with a bunch of kiddos from our group at the Rathouse. But When we were bundling up, Liesl came home and insisted that we go ice skating another day.
"You can go ice skating anyday, Norbert and I got a table at the Hengl, with drinks and food. Ice skating is not for today. You are coming with us."
Her words, not mine.
Plus, it's really hard to tell her no.
And they invite us to the most wonderful things.
You wouldn't want to miss out either.
And the Hengl, was unlike anything I have EVER been to before in my whole entire dramatic life. These places have their own vineyards and they make their own wine, and we didn't drink wine, we got apple juice instead. And you order like you're back in the middle school cafeteria, but instead of pizza or unidentifiable meat being your only two options, you get to pick from cow tongue, sides of pigs or sheep liver. And you have to order quickly or they just pick for you. We then enjoyed a lovely evening of eating and talking and desperately trying to understand all the German being spoken around us.

Like I said. Best Valentine's EVER.

Also, if you ever wanted to know what it feels like to see it snowing here in this magical city, read this. A girl in our group describes it more than perfectly.

My dear friends, life is not fair. It is utterly unfair to every person who has not seen Vienna during a snowfall. I am writing this in a cozy warm room at an antique oak table, and Josh Groban is singing to me. Outside my window, a beautiful, sleepy Vienna is being tucked under a blanket of crystals literally sparkling as if embroidered with millions upon millions of tiny diamonds. It is one of the most lovely, picturesque things I have ever seen in my life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

JFK vs. Norbert

You might be wondering what John F. Kennedy and Norbert could possibly have in common. Well, I'll tell you ladies and gentleman. Good 'ol Johnny Kennedy quotes Norbert. 

Exhibit A:

Honorable citizen of Austria, Norbert, writes letters to American presidential candidates and gets personal responses. 
Think: First name basis.
And JFK said that he was "proud to number you among my supporters."

Let's be honest. Who wouldn't be proud to have Norbert on their team?
No one.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eisenstadt. Debts. Haydn. Staatsoper. Beards.

Road trip! I'm a sucker for a lot of things in this world. Namely really cool date ideas, great journal entries, S'mores, bow ties, babies, mail, pretty pens and nerds. 
Road trips are in there too. Definitely. 

On Wednesday our group rode the bus to Eisenstadt. Where Haydn worked as the court composer for the Esterhazy's for years and years and years. Like one hundred years. Actually, I don't know the exact number, but they make it sound like a lot. 

Adriana and I packed our backpacks full of crackers, candy and cookies to share with the group. 
So we could make friends.
It worked.
Kate Hinckley is officially our bestest friend. She told me "You're my favorite...but what's your name again?"

We had a really great Haydn packed day. Dr. Hinckley organized a palace tour for our whole group. It was really stunning inside and out. And we got to walk around the palace grounds afterwards. SO. PRETTY.
Adriana, Kate, and I.
Standing in front of where Haydn's body is. Including his head.
I was thinking that if I had millions and millions of dollars I'd spend it on pretty gardens too.
A pond on the grounds.
All the debt that the Esterhazy's were in.
Talk about overspending. 

Esterhazy Palace.
Notice the different men's faces underneath the roof.

 So get this story:
Once upon a time Haydn died. And he was put into a casket and buried. Two days later his body was dug up, and someone decapitated him and stole his head for scientific studies. They replaced his head with some unknown person's. The musical world was in disarray because their beloved composer's head was missing. For two hundred years. 
Finally, in 2009 they got Haydn's head reunited with his body. And a huge reuniting procession was obviously in store and people's souls could be at rest finally, and the world was at peace.

Also, Adriana and I came up with a joke. Because...we do that kind of thing. And this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Q: Why were the Esterhazy's looking for their court composer?
A: Because he was Haydn!...

Funny? Laaaaame? We think we're pretty cool because we came up with a Musical joke. This is proof that we're learning lots and lots of things here.

The church where Haydn is buried. CHECK.OUT.THAT.ROOF.
I wanted sled off the top.
Inside the Church that Haydn was buried in.
An Orange blossom Halo that the Queen wore on her wedding day.
Hello, dream life.

I promise.

Monday night Ana and I went to the Staatsoper to see Andres Chenier. An Opera. Norbert and Liesl went on Saturday and told us to go. Norbert told me this when he got back: "The main guy is really fat, so fat he can't even hug his love. That is just terrible." This little statement was enough incentive to get me to that Opera. So we went, and we went early. So we could check out the building and explore. What we do best in this beautiful city. 
Ana and I in front of the stage. Notice the Orchestra pit behind us. 
 Ana and I walked up to the Orchestra pit, and I pretended to conduct the orchestra.
This was the most fun I had all night.
I think that if speech doesn't work out for me, I could do quite well waving my arms in front of the world's most talented musicians. 
The worst seats in the house.
Still better than our experience standing for four hours, with strangers touching you, menopausal status heat flashes, and not enough water  to make it even half worth the experience. 
 In all reality, our experience wasn't half bad. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I fell asleep. Ana did too. Two very tall men stood in front of us and blocked our view.
A man and his lover were extra close to me.
Touching me. I wanted to vomit.
They sing EVERY single word in opera. Did you know this?...
Because opera is about the music...the acting is sub-sub par.
And because Ana and I don't speak German, we rely on the acting...this is a problem. 
Also, the interpreters are nothing to get excited about.
Standing for hours on end bruises my feet. Pretty sure.
We contemplated leaving early...but didn't want to disappoint Liesl or Norbert. The things we do out of pure love.
ALSO, Drs. Hinckley. We love opera. I just don't think I am really cut out for that extreme amount of culture in one sitting. That's all...
The three ton chandelier. We got reprimanded for this picture.
But it was worth it.

 One more thing:
This is Christ on the cross. He has a beard. I don't know if you can see that well enough or not. 
But...there is a legend that the beard grows. 
Sometimes it is longer, and sometimes it is shorter.
I have intentions of returning to St. Stephens every so often to keep tabs on it.
I love legends. 
The growing beard.

St. Stephen's Cathedral. While it's snowing. The snow here is the prettiest snow I have ever seen. Imagine sparkles falling from the sky. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spring Break

I just booked my flight for Spring Break.

Istanbul, Turkey anyone?...

This is my fourth year in college and I've been living blindly, not ever experiencing this so-called Spring Break. You cannot imagine the freedom, and thrill that comes from discovering that you have endless possibilities to fill seven whole days. 

So Adriana and I chose Turkey. Specifically Istanbul. It is the conjoining city of Europe and Asia. Very cool. A spicy blend of modern and ancient. The perfect destination for the best spring break. 

Galata Bridge. Looking towards the famous Blue Mosque and European side of the city.

Cooooooooooool. Plus, beaches.

Hello, Istanbul. 

Absolute musts for Istanbul:
- Turkish baths
- Beaches
- Grand Bazaar
- Blue Mosque
- Hagia Sophia
- Hippodrome

If you know of any other great ideas, be sure to let me know. Also...if you know any Turkish...I could benefit from a quick lesson.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Climax. Of my Whole Existence.

Just when I thought my life couldn't get any better.
It went and did.

In fact, not only did it get better, but I'm pretty certain that I've reached the climax of my existence.

I traveled from Austria to Hungary today.
Via ice skates.

Real ice skates.
Real frozen lake.
Real life changing experience.

Adriana. Liesl. Me.
The ice skates were really tough to put on. We needed help.
We also look like little children...
This is just the beginning.

Looooook how fantastic we are!
Ps. Liesl is a great ice skater, specifically at skating circles around Ana and I.

You can see Hungary in the distance. And we went there.

Ana and I. Working on staying upright.

The wind was so strong it pushed us across the lake, and Liesl helped us get back.
Seriously, I love that lady.
And you should too, because she saved my life.

So here's how it allllll started:
Yesterday, Saturday, Norbert and Liesl wanted to have breakfast with us. We obviously accepted, because when you live with as classy of people as Norbert and Liesl, you don't deny anything they offer you.
They asked if we had plans for Sunday.
Again, with these people. You MAKE yourself free.
Liesl suggested we go to the lake to go ice skating. Hallelujah! Praise be to God.
I love ice skating.
I am not the best ice skater, but I love it. Plus, we're in Austria. This is a dream.
The best dream of my whole entire existence.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clothing Breakdown

I wear a lot of clothes here.
Layers and layers and LAYERS of clothing as a matter of fact.
This picture is like looking at an onion, That hasn't been dissected yet. 
So I will do the honors for you.

I start with the necessities.
The unmentionables if you will.
I then add a pair of thick tights. 
And a pair of thick leggings.
And a pair of wool socks.
*Optional: Another pair of normal socks. Just in case I take my shoes off and I don't want people to think that I wear wool socks all the time. Fashionable reasons only.
Cap sleeve t-shirt.
Long sleeve t-shirt.
Wool sweater.
*Optional: Another sweater.
Long down coat.
Scarves, scarves and more scarves.
Ear warmers, or hat.
Glove liners. 
BIG, warm, black mittens.
Fur-lined boots.

And sometimes...I still can't feel my appendages.

It's a real tough life here.
I really, really, really love it.
Negative degree weather and all.